Saturday, 13 January 2018

Warwickshire Avon – Jackanapes and Juveniles

Chub Heaven, not so it seemed recently because this small haven I’ve fished for quite a few years now they seemed to be far less in numbers. From the 12 or so fishable swims on this section, 4 or 5 of those were guaranteed to hold chub in the winter, a blank was rarely on the cards. 

Admittedly I’d not caught a 5lber, but two fish of 4lb 13oz’s and countless 4lbers for me ain’t a bad stamp of Chub, there were bigger fish here to be had, I’d seen them in the summer albeit they were spooky as hell and never graced my net. This season however I was finding it tough, the banks are rarely trodden in anger over the winter, so where have all the Chevin gone because they had either vanished or laughing at me.

I felt like Trump on a potential visit to modern London with Cockney accents in decline, probably not welcome. Unlike Trump though, I wasn’t planning to cancel my visit, I had ribbons to cut.

Have they now become preoccupied with a certain type of bait because this has been pumped into the river over a period of time by anglers, unlikely because this doesn’t occur on small waters such as this. Chub can certainly associate certain baits with unfortunate experiences though, and then they tend to rocket off at the sight of them and when in low and clear conditions here, I’ve seen fish ignore breadflake like it was a warning beacon with ‘Don’t touch Me’ emblazoned on it.

Natural baits will always help, such as a big fat slug or juicy lobworm, but again some baits have a greater degree of effectiveness only in given areas and will not work everywhere at all times. Even in summer where smaller baits are the way to go usually, you cannot get a lobworm big enough, even on shallow and gin clear waters they still catch fish.

So what was going on here….I’d hooked and lost a fish eventually on cheesepaste so that at least eased my mind a little, the fish were still here.

So maybe something not often seen might be worth a dabble….

I buy the odd vintage (well 1970’s/80’s) fishing magazine from Ebay from time to time and one article from Coarse Fishing Monthly from 1982 got me thinking.

Chub on Whitebait….

Now David Carl Forbes late seventies book titled Rough and Small Stream fishing seemed to mirror said article where he used small fish baits quite effectively, albeit using bullheads, stoneloach, gudgeon and minnow, sometimes outwitting the cutest of Chevin and I thought, “mmmm, certainly worth a dabble” 

The Whitebait article was about fishing clear rivers where fishing was tough using familiar baits but the fish especially the bigger fish were often taking Whitebait on the drop such was the liking for them.

So after mixing with the great unwashed and gene meddlers at a Morrisons in Rubery I was in possession of 600g of frozen whitebait for a princely sum of 4 quid. 

Now whitebait principally refers to the fry of clupeidae fish, young sprats, most commonly herring. It’s a food stuff that has largely fallen out of favour I suppose, it used be on the menu as a starter in many a establishments where they are normally deep-fried, coated in flour or a light batter, and served very hot with sprinkled lemon juice and bread and butter and as I like them with aioli but times change in the culinary world, and nothing wrong with that.

Eaten guts, head, bones and all it tastes nicer than it sounds, but if the fish were not interested I’d be eating them myself, no question. 

I had thought about just lip hooking them but then an illustration in the David Carl Forbes book he used a rubber band or piece of thread wound just above the tail and the hook is merely hooked lightly through the flanks. 

Instead of a boggo elastic band I'd use a modern bait band instead and a banding tool.

What could go wrong, well plenty probably, so that’s why I had some Warburtons blue as back-up.

The session, well it turned about better than expected, 7 fish banked the biggest a nats nadger under 3lb, the took the whitebait confidently too. The wind was a biting one as well so I was only bankside for a few hours, but the whitebait, although didn't single out the bigger fish, turned out to a bit of a revelation.

I had some liquidised bread and each swim was primed with couple of squashed handfuls before fishing a whitebait over the top. Once swim produced three fish in as many casts, the clarity, or lack of it I'm sure helped because you could see the bait flutter to the bottom.

Chub, chub and lots of them.....

If I'm honest, I still think cheese paste is hard to beat, cheap as chips, easy to make and it's a bait that will always catch fish no matter the conditions, and it also gets better with age.

The more I catch Chub, they are getting up there as maybe my favourite species, to be honest a winters days, I couldn't think of anything better fishing wise.

A small bag, a rod, a landing net, a small bait bucket, that's it....

Well apart from roving from swim to swim that is, my kind of fishing. No every swim had Chub but considering I've had a bit of a doing over here recently, encouraging signs. Also encouraging signs is a section not a millions of miles away that I might give a proper go for Chub on Friday if the conditions are favourable.

Whitebait is certainly worth a try if you want to try a different bait for Chub, I've hardly dented the 600g tub, which at the moment are residing in the freezer ready to be eaten, by me or the Chevin.

With another fishing session in the morning, this time I might try for a Zander, Autumn appears to be the best or easiest time that's for sure, but for a big one, the cold does seems to bring the better stamp of fish out.

So it's out with the Roach deadbait and I might throw the lure around too.

If you can get out to the Warwickshire Avon over the next couple or three days, have a crack at the Chub because the conditions are not far off perfect at the minute.

Tight Lines if you do....


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